The Bourne Identity (2002) – original review

Directed by Doug Liman

One the better espionage, action-adventure films is The Bourne Identity. It works because it’s very quickly paced and gets strong performances from everyone involved. Matt Damon does surprisingly well in his role.

The film begins with a fishing boat coming upon an unconscious man floating in the water. When he comes to, it turns out he has no idea who he is, though he has some unsettling hints of who he might have been.

He has been shot twice in the back. He has uncommon survival skills.

What knowledge he has is eclectic and disturbing.

As Jason Bourne, Matt Damon does a good deal of running.

The story follows this man as he slowly discovers his identity. As he does, he meets a woman who becomes a kind of partner. Growing numbers of people seem to be after him, some of whom are trying to kill him.

To repeat, the pacing keeps this moving briskly so you never really stop to think through issues like credibility.

Although the fight sequences are very well done, they are also a bit amusing – unintentionally. When they occur, the film suddenly becomes The Matrix, without the slow motion “leap and freeze in the air” bits.

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) and Marie (Franka Potente).

In other words, they are a bit cartoon-like because they are so fast, so quickly edited, and so staccato – almost jump cuts. In a movie like The Matrix they can work because it is not only fantasy, it’s a particular kind of fantasy – rooted in anime and comics, occurring in a digital, computer world.

In The Bourne Identity it’s supposed to be the real world. So it doesn’t quite work.

Something that does work, though, is the music – especially Moby’s Extreme Ways over the end credits.

Overall … A very entertaining action movie – one of the better ones of its kind.

But not great.

The Jason Bourne Trilogy:

  • The Bourne Identity (2002)
  • The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
  • The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

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